Football – No. 4 St. John Vianney Dominates No. 5 Rumson-Fair Haven for 26th Straight Win vs. the Shore
RUMSON — St. John Vianney wanted to send a message on Friday night, and to do so the Lancers aimed at the heart of the Rumson-Fair Haven defense.
The Lancers began the game with 13-play, 73-yard scoring drive that ran roughshod over the Bulldogs and set the tone for their most complete victory of the season. Senior running back Chris Chukwuneke ran for 134 yards and a touchdown and junior quarterback Haaziq Daniels accounted for 249 total yards and two touchdowns as St. John Vianney, ranked No. 4 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, dominated from start to finish in a 28-3 Shore Conference Class A Central victory over No. 5 Rumson-Fair Haven at Borden Stadium.
The win all but locked up the Lancers’ third straight division title and ran their winning streak against Shore Conference teams to 26 games.
“From the start we felt like we were in total control,” Chukwuneke said. “The coaches gave us the game plan and we knew we could execute it.”
Rumson’s defense came in as the No. 1 unit in the Shore allowing just 14 total points in four games, but the Lancers rolled up 406 yards of offense, including 221 on the ground. Instead it was the St. John Vianney (6-0, 5-0) defense that controlled the game, limiting the Bulldogs (3-2, 3-1) to 175 yards and eight first downs. The Lancers have allowed just 38 points all season, an average of 6.3 points per game.
“The offense is supposed to compliment our defense and the same the other way, and that’s what it is,” said St. John Vianney head coach Derek Sininsky. “It’s hard-nosed football. We don’t want to throw the ball. We want to punch you in the mouth and get after it.”
When the Lancers did throw it, however, they found great success. Junior receiver Zyaire Sterling caught six passes for 133 yards and a touchdown and junior wide out Samuel East had a 54-yard catch ad Daniels completed 7 of 11 passes and averaged 16.8 yards per attempt. The running game was the focus, though, and the Lancers showed everyone they are still the same explosive offense of a year ago, just in a different way. Running behind an offensive line led by Rutgers recruit Micah Clark, the Lancers won the battle against Rumson’s defense and star linebacker Mike Ruane.
“We knew what we were facing,” Clark said. “Ruane is a great, great linebacker and we had to put the clamps on him. We made some great blocks and got the job done.”
St. John Vianney won the opening coin toss and elected to receive. What followed was a 13-play scoring drive with runs on 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Daniels pulled the ball on a zone read and scored on a 31-yard run on fourth-and-2 to give St. John Vianney an early lead it would not relinquish.
“It showed that we’re for real and here to play,” Chukwuneke said. “When you have a team like Rumson and their main focus is there defense and you can drive the ball like that, it sets the tone for the rest of the game.”
“That was a really important drive,” Clark said. “We dug down before that (fourth down) play and I said to the line, ‘this is what we came here for’.”
After forcing Rumson three-and-out on its first drive, the Lancers needed just two plays to find the end zone again. Daniels swung a pass to Sterling in the flat and he did the rest on a 64-yard catch and run down the home sideline for a 14-0 lead.
The lead grew to 21-0 midway through the second quarter when Chukwuneke broke off a 57-yard run to set up his own 1-yard touchdown plunge. Rumson got on the board late in the first half with an eight-play drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal by senior Thomas Chapin.
A great special teams play by Pedro Braga to down a punt at the Rumson 1-yard line gave St. John Vianney great field position on its next drive. Catches of 22, 19 yards and 8 yards by sterling set up junior Johnny Buchanan for a 2-yard leap over the pile to get into the end zone and push the lead to 28-3 with 1:03 left in the third quarter.
St. John Vianney has to defeat only Monmouth Regional (2-4) on November 4 to clinch the division title. Before that the Lancers have two huge games against rival and eighth-ranked Red Bank Catholic as well as a date with No. 1 Middletown South.
“Winning 26 in a row is nice, but that’s not good enough,” Chukwuneke said. “We want 27, 28, 29 and roll into the playoffs undefeated.”
No. 4 St. John Vianney 28, No. 5 Rumson-Fair Haven 3
St. John Vianney
St. John Vianney (6-0, 5-0) 14 7 7 0 — 28
Rumson-Fair Haven (3-2, 3-1) 0 3 0 0 — 3
SJV — Haaziq Daniels 31-yard run (Will Forman kick)
SJV — Haaziq Daniels 64-yard pass to Zyaire Sterling (Will Forman kick)
SJV — Chris Chukwuneke 1-yard run (Will Forman kick)
RFH — Thomas Chapin 33-yard field goal
SJV — Johnny Buchanan 2-yard run
RUSHING — SJV: Chris Chukwuneke 22-134, Haaziq Daniels 6-64, Johnny Buchanan 6-23, Zyaire Sterling 1-0; RFH: Mike O’Connor 10-53, Matt Vecchiarelli 14-42, Peter Lucas 2-6, Jack Volker 1-6.
PASSING — SJV: Haaziq Daniels 7-11-0 185, A.J. Calabro 0-1-1 0; RFH: Mike O’Connor 5-12-1 41, Jack Volker 5-7-0 27.
RECEIVING — SJV: Zyaire Sterling 6-131, Samuel East 1-54; RFH: Colin Pavluk 3-29, Jack Oberle 3-19, Trevor Caruso 2-6, Gavin Pomphrey 1-8, Peter Lucas 1-6.
INTERCEPTIONS — SJV: Pedro Braga 1-19; RFH: Mike Murdock 1-0.
Football editor Bob Badders can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.